A Poem of Self-Discovery

Image of "I Am What I Am"

I Am What I Am

I am the money that talks in the bank,
a flaw in the mirror, a check that was blank,
the tip of an iceberg, the liner that sank.

I’m the isle of the blessed and the pirate who’d plunder it,
the veil of the night and the lightning to sunder it,
the boy in the bed and the monster who’s under it.

I’m the sum of a part and the karmic subtraction,
the paralyzed thought and the frenzy of action,
the bile in my throat and a low satisfaction.

I’m the past I have checkered, the devil’s detail,
the promise of love and a check in the mail,
rebellion in heaven, the quest for the grail;

I’m the grave of my death and the air in my head,
the puzzle I question, the answer I dread –
each shadow I’ve thrown, and the life that I’ve led,
the monster below and the boy in the bed.

Illustration by Russ Spitkovsky courtesy of Ed Shacklee.

Ed Shacklee About Ed Shacklee

Ed Shacklee is a Washington, D.C. public defender and poet who lives on a boat in the Potomac River and represents young people in his law practice. His poems have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Journal, Light, and Rattle. His first book, The Blind Loon: A Bestiary, was recently published by Able Muse Press.


  1. Stephen Cooper says:

    Every person worth knowing (in my opinion) has a bit of the boy in the bed and the monster who’s under it in them.

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